The Bombay High Court on Friday said that the #MeToo movement was for victims of sexual harassment to come forward and it should not be misused.
Justice S J Kathawalla was hearing a petition filed by film director Vikas Bahl, seeking Rs 10 crore in damages from his former partners at Phantom Films, directors Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane, and three media organisations for alleged defamation.
Representing the woman who had complained about sexual harassment by Bahl, senior counsel Navroz Seervai, told the court that she did not want to be part of the litigation. Serwai said, “The woman has had enough and she is still suffering at the hands of this man (Bahl) and she doesn’t want to be party to this case.”
The court then asked Seervai to make a written statement and submit it to the court on Justice Kathawalla then said if the woman is not willing to pursue the case, no one should speak about it.
Justice Kathawala said, “She (the woman) should not be used by anyone. No one should fire from her shoulder. This movement is not for them, it is for the victim to come forward.”
The court also said there should be guidelines for such incidents, otherwise “all this will be abused and misused and we don’t know where will this end up”.
The court also said the parties to the case filed by Bahl should consider settling the case out of court.
Bahl had sought interim relief restraining his erstwhile partners at Phantom Films and others, including two media houses, from posting, publishing and republishing the allegedly defamatory articles about him on any medium.
Granting no interim relief on the previous hearing, the court had directed that the woman, who had alleged that she faced sexual harassment by Bahl, and the fourth partner in Phantom Films, Madhu Mantena, also be made parties.
In the civil suit filed through advocate Hitesh Jain, Bahl, apart from the damages, has sought a permanent injunction against Kashyap, Motwane and others restraining them from publishing “defamatory” articles, posts against him stating that they are “completely false, erroneous and defamatory in nature” having caused “irreparable harm, loss and damage” to his reputation.